Submitted by Thurston County Homeless Housing Hub

The Thurston County Homeless Housing Hub is proud to announce that the 2017 “Housing & Homeless Hero Award” for outstanding direct service goes to Katherine Trahan & Teal Russell of the Olympia Downtown Ambassadors.  This award will be presented on noon on Monday, January 22nd at the Salvation Army Worship Center’s Fellowship Room located at 1505 4th Avenue East, Olympia.

About Katherine Trahan & Teal Russell, Award Recipients

Katherine Trahan and Teal Russell were nominated for their work as the Downtown Ambassadors in recognition of their efforts to strengthen the network of services and resources for street dependent people in downtown Olympia.  As the Downtown Ambassadors, they often function as the communication bridge between service providers, downtown residents, business owners, property owners, law enforcement, and others.

Both Teal Russell and Katherine Trahan have been serving as Downtown Ambassadors for 3 years while the program was hosted by Capital Recovery Center.  Both are Certified Peer Support Specialists, trained to work with people with mental health issues.  This valuable training strongly informs their street outreach work to build rapport and trust with members of the street community.  Both are passionate about their work and love Downtown Olympia. In their words,

“We are happy to be a familiar and friendly face for those having a bad day, ready to help de-escalate tough situations as well as to listen to someone who just needs to be heard”.

In these times when many parts of our society are polarized from each other, bridge-builders like the Downtown Ambassadors help us all to work better together.

About the Downtown Ambassador Program

The Downtown Ambassador Program was launched in 2012 by the Capital Recovery Center with funding by the City of Olympia.  This program is modeled after similar efforts across the U.S. to provide a combination of street outreach to homeless, mentally ill and other street dependent people, as well as to provide visitor information for tourists, shoppers and others in the downtown core.  In 2018, the City of Olympia brought this program in-house to be part of the City’s package of services to make downtown safe and welcoming for all.

About the “Housing & Homeless Hero Award”

The “Housing & Homeless Hero Award” is a peer-chosen recognition of a direct service provider for exemplary service in the Housing & Homeless network of Thurston County.  Nominations and votes come from direct service providers, public officials and others involved in the Thurston County Housing Action Team.   This award is presented each year at the annual “Thurston County Homeless Hero Luncheon”, which is intended to recognize individuals whose exemplary service stands out in a field of many dedicated service providers.  Recipients reflect the following qualities:

  1. Direct housing &  homeless service providers
  2. People whose work strengthens the network of providers
  3. People who inspire other individuals engaged in human services
  4. People who by their nature maximize collaboration and minimize competition between agencies in order to better serve those in need

About the Thurston County Homeless Housing Hub

The Thurston County Homeless Housing Hub (HHH) is a sub-committee of the Thurston Thrives Housing Action Team.  This committee is composed of direct service providers working with homeless people and others at risk of homelessness.  Activities include networking, development of best practices & policy work as directed by the Housing Action Team leadership.  Members include Behavioral Health Resources; Bread & Roses Shelter; Capital Recovery Center; Catholic Community Services; Community Action Council;  Community Youth Services; EGYHOP; Family Support Center; Homes First!; Housing Authority; Interfaith Works; Fleetwood Apartments; Low Income Housing Institute; PANZA / Camp Quixote; St. Michael’s Shelter Program;  Safeplace; Salvation Army; SideWalk; Out of the Woods Shelter; Partners in Prevention; Thurston County Corrections Jail Transition Services; Union Gospel Mission; Veterans Administration Homeless Programs; and, the YWCA.

The HHH meets monthly on the third Monday at noon at the Fellowship Room at the Salvation Army Worship Center, located at 1505 4th Avenue East in Olympia.

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